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A curated weekday guide to major national security news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – GLOBAL RESPONSE
U.S. secretary of state, Antony Blinken, and top diplomats from more than 30 European countries will meet today in Romania to discuss how NATO will continue to support Ukraine. The officials are expected to discuss further weapons shipments, as well as how to help repair Ukraine’s electricity grid and defend the country’s critical infrastructure against missile, artillery, and drone attacks by the Russian military. Edward Wong reports for the New York Times.
Justice officials from the Group of Seven will meet today in Germany to discuss how best to investigate war crimes in Ukraine. Officials from the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Japan, Italy, and Canada are set to be joined by their Ukrainian counterpart Denys Maliuska and the country’s prosecutor general Andriy Kostin. According to a statement by the group, the meeting will discuss ways to “coordinate investigation of core crimes under international criminal law” more effectively. BBC News reports.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
A communal grave with six bodies has been discovered on the outskirts of Kherson. Three of the bodies had their hands bound by rope; two had bullet holes in the back of the skull. Residents say the bodies belonged to six people from the same house who were executed by Russian forces in April. Jeffrey Gettleman reports for the New York Times.
Russia has hit out at comments from the Pope that some minority groups of soldiers have behaved worse than others in the invasion of Ukraine. The “cruelest” troops are generally Chechens and Buryats, Pope Francis said in an interview published yesterday. Russian called the remarks a “perversion.” Elsa Maishman reports for BBC News.
The Chinese government has quickly cracked down on protests against its zero-tolerance COVID-19 policy, deploying police forces at protest sites and tightening online censorship. Foreign government officials have voiced support for the protestors and criticized Beijing’s response. In response to the protests, U.S. National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said yesterday that the U.S. will “continue to stand up and support the right of peaceful protest.” Jessie Yeung reports for CNN.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
The defeat of Taiwan’s ruling party in local elections over the weekend could reduce the chances of military conflict with China, according to political analysts. On Saturday, voters handed a rebuke to the ruling Democratic Progressive Party in a decisive result that led Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen to resign as leader. In contrast, the opposition National Party, which is more friendly to Beijing, scored big wins. However, some analysts also believe that the election results will encourage China to intensify its efforts in using information warfare and economic incentives to lure swing voters into favoring China-friendly candidates. Joyu Wang reports for the Wall Street Journal.
An assault by Al Shabab militants on a hotel in the Somalian capital of Mogadishu has left at least nine civilians, including one police officer, dead. The six attackers were also killed in the 22-hour siege. At least three government ministers, including the internal security minister, were at the hotel during the attack, providing new evidence that militants are able to strike Somalia’s political elite even in places where they are most closely guarded. Hussein Mohamed and Declan Walsh report for the New York Times.
Russia has postponed arms-control talks scheduled for this week, U.S. officials have said. It had been hoped that the meeting, which was set to take place in Cairo, would lead to the resumption of inspections under the New START treaty, which cuts long-range U.S. and Russian nuclear arms. According to U.S. officials, Russia offered no explanation for the postponement and has said it will propose new dates. Michael R. Gordon and Vivian Salama report for the Wall Street Journal.
Biden administration officials are pushing to send multinational armed forces to Haiti to quell the tumult in the country. However, the U.S. does not want its own troops included in the force, despite the fear that the unrest in the country will spur mass migration to American shores. Natalie Kitroeff reports for the New York Times.
Major news outlets called on the U.S. government yesterday to drop some of its charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. In a joint open letter, The New York Times, The Guardian, Le Monde, Der Spiegel and El Pais, said the prosecution of Assange under the Espionage Act “sets a dangerous precedent” that threatens to undermine the First Amendment and the freedom of the press. Charlie Savage reports for the New York Times.
Vice President Kamala Harris and French President Emmanuel Macron will visit NASA headquarters together tomorrow. The trip is intended to showcase the U.S. and France’s “deepening collaboration on space in support of Earth, climate, and space science and space explorations,” according to a White House official. Alex Gangitano reports for The Hill.
JAN. 6 ATTACK
Former Secret Service agent and White House aide, Anthony M. Ornato, is scheduled to be interviewed today by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack. Ornata, who oversaw the logistics of former President Trump’s movements, is key to a dispute over conflicting accounts of Trump’s actions during the attack. In particular, whether Trump demanded to join his supporters at the Capitol and whether he tried to grab the wheel of the presidential S.U.V. Luke Broadwater reports for the New York Times.
Former Trump White House adviser Kellyanne Conway was interviewed by the Jan. 6 committee yesterday, according to sources familiar with the matter. The committee asked specifically about her reportedly telling acquaintances that Trump acknowledged to her that he knew he had lost the 2020 presidential election, according to one source. After the interview, Conway told reporters that she did not invoke her right against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment. Annie Grayer, Zachary Cohen, Jamie Gangel and Sara Murray report for CNN.
2022 MIDTERM ELECTIONS
Republican officials in Cochise County, Arizona yesterday delayed the certification of November’s midterm election results, missing the legal deadline set by state law. The decision puts into jeopardy the state’s timeline for finalizing the results of the election and showcases the depth of distrust in election administration in the state. Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D), who was projected to win her race for governor, has asked a court to compel the county to certify the results. If the county refuses to do so, its throws into question the votes of thousands of people. Yvonne Wingett Sanchez and Isaac Stanley-Becker report for the Washington Post.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
The Supreme Court will hear arguments today in a case brought by Texas and Louisiana concerning the Biden administration’s discretion on removing non-citizens. At the heart of the dispute is a Sept. 2021 memo from Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas that laid out priorities for the arrest, detention and deportation of certain non-citizens. Lawyers for Texas and Louisiana argue that the government lacked the authority to issue the memo because its conflicts with federal immigration law, which holds that some immigrants “shall” be taken into custody. Ariane de Vogue reports for CNN.
The man who killed 10 people during a racist massacre at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York has pleaded guilty to state charges including first-degree murder and domestic terrorism. Payton Gendron will be sentenced on Feb. 15, Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said. He faces a mandatory life sentence. Jimmy Vielkind reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Republican lawmakers issued a rare rebuke to former President Trump yesterday over his decision to dine with white nationalist Nick Fuentes and rapper Ye, both of whom have a history of antisemitism. Those who criticized Trump included former vice president Mike Pence, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, and former New Jersey governor Chris Christe – all of whom are rumored to be eyeing a presidential run. Amy B Wang, Mariana Alfaro and Liz Goodwin report for the Washington Post.
The U.S. government has long discriminated against Black military veterans according to a lawsuit filed yesterday by Yale Law School’s Veterans Legal Services Clinic. The suit, which was filed on behalf of Vietnam War veteran Conley Monk Jr., claims that the Department of Veterans Affairs denied Monk’s application for education, housing, and disability benefits for “decades.” The clinic contends that the lawsuit could help determine whether individuals can seek compensation from the federal government for systemic prejudices that have disadvantaged them. Ellen Mitchell reports for The Hill.
COVID-19 has infected over 98.628 million people and has now killed over 1.08 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 641.829 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.63 million deaths. Sergio Hernandez, Sean O’Key, Amanda Watts, Byron Manley and Henrik Pettersson report for CNN.
A map and analysis of all confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S. is available at the New York Times.
U.S. and worldwide maps tracking the spread of the pandemic are available at the Washington Post.